For more than two generations, the educational opportunities provided by Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc. have advanced the knowledge of veterinarians and their health-care teams all over the United States. Nowhere is Hill's long-term investment in learning more evident than at the AVMA Annual Convention, where the platinum-level sponsor is in the third year of its five-year commitment toward providing major financial support.
This year, Hill's is capitalizing on the convention's Hawaiian locale to strengthen ties with its international colleagues, especially those from the Pacific Rim. The company's booth in the exhibit hall will feature a special Asian corner, staffed by Hill's personnel from Japan and the Far East. The company will also sponsor the International Reception to provide a venue where visitors can get acquainted.
While the convention provides an international venue for education, Pacific Rim veterinarians have already benefited from Hill's global outreach in their own countries.
Dr. Mary Beth Leininger, Hill's director of professional affairs and a past president of the AVMA, likes to remind her colleagues that the veterinary world is a very small family around the globe. "As an international company, Hill's has an ongoing commitment to reaching out to its practitioner partners with professional education and support, even in developing nations," Dr. Leininger said. "Like my colleagues all over the world, veterinarians in Asian countries are hungry for knowledge."
Hill's has a huge focus on educating veterinarians in Asian countries. According to Dr. Hiroshi Sakane, veterinary affairs manager for Hill's Japan, "Within the past several months, more than 10 percent of the companion animal veterinarians in Japan—almost 1,500 professionals—attended a Hill's series of symposia on dermatology and nutrition." In other parts of Asia, Hill's has a presence in China, Guam, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand.
Because of its global outreach, Hill's can access and send scientific experts and resources from areas such as North America, Australasia, and Europe to developing countries where the veterinary communities are eager to gain more knowledge about nutrition and medicine.
Based in Singapore, Dr. Mark O'Byrne is Hill's Far East veterinary affairs manager. He often makes two to three CE presentations a day at veterinary colleges and gatherings arranged by local veterinary associations. Dr. O'Byrne said that Westerners who think people in Asia do not have a bond with companion animals are misinformed.
"Many parts of Asia have sophisticated pet owners who recognize the need for good nutrition and veterinary care for their animal companions," Dr. O'Byrne said. In South Korea, where the birth rate is less than 1 percent, couples often have small pets rather than children. "China's focus on pets is exploding. Just as an example, there are more than half a million pet dogs in Beijing alone. In Hong Kong, the pet ratio is 48 percent cats to 52 percent dogs."
At the Hawaii convention, Hill's will sponsor a wide array of educational sessions, not only on nutrition and dietary management but also on other topics that reflect key areas of veterinary interest. The presentations will relate to animal welfare, behavior, the human-animal bond, emergency response, practice management, ethics, personal leadership, career pathways and transitions, and gender/generational issues.
Hill's also underwrites the entire veterinary technician educational program, which the AVMA has named the Dr. Jack L. Mara Seminars in Veterinary Technology in honor of the late Hill's spokesman, who was one of the earliest driving forces for increasing the role of veterinary technicians in veterinary practices.
The company will also sponsor the early-morning Saturday Opening Ceremony at Fort DeRussy Beach Park, several organizational luncheons, the education-at-a-glance guide, and other programs designed to enhance meeting-goers' experience in Hawaii.
Dr. Leininger said, "No matter where we are in the world, Hill's maintains its focus on veterinarians. It's in our DNA."